Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish estuary located in southeastern Louisiana. It is the second-largest inland saltwater body of water in the United States and covers an area of 630 square miles (1,600 km2) with an average depth of 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 m). Some shipping channels are kept deeper through dredging. It is roughly oval in shape, about 40 miles (64 km) from west to east and 24 miles (39 km) from south to north. In descending order of area, the lake is located in parts of St. Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, and Tangipahoa parishes. Lake Pontchartrain is named for Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, the French Minister of the Marine, Chancellor of France and Controller-General of Finances during the reign of France's "Sun King," Louis XIV, for whom Louisiana is named.
Lake Pontchartrain is not a true lake but an estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico via the Rigolets strait (known locally as "the Rigolets") and Chef Menteur Pass into Lake Borgne, another large lagoon, and therefore experiences small tidal changes. It receives fresh water from the Tangipahoa, Tchefuncte, Tickfaw, Amite, and Bogue Falaya rivers, and from Bayou Lacombe and Bayou Chinchuba. It is one of the largest wetlands along the Gulf Coast of North America.
Owing to past exploitation, the ecosystems of the lake are under stress. Marshes, for example, are turning to open water, and cypress swamps are being killed by salt water intrusion. There is also good news: Brown Pelicans and Bald Eagles, once scarce, are now a common sight along the shores. A team of experts assembled by The Nature Conservancy assessed the situation in 2004. New Orleans was established at a Native American portage between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, connecting New Orleans (by way of Metairie) with Mandeville and bisecting the lake in a north-northeast line. At 24 miles (39 km), the Causeway is the second-longest bridge over a body of water in the world.
Swim Across the 'Train
- Tim Root attempted to Swim Across the ‘Train, a 25-mile charity swim crossing of Lake Ponchartrain. He swam from Madisonville to New Orleans in Louisiana for 9 miles before being pulled out. His swim was to benefit the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.
- In 2012, Matthew Moseley and Glynde Mangum successfully swam across Lake Ponchartrain as a duo relay in a little over 12 hours.
- In 2014, Matthew Moseley successfully swam across Lake Pontchartrain in 14 hours 55 minutes.
Documentary by award-winning filmmaker Wayne Ewing.
Swimming the Longest Bridge in the World
Matthew Moseley talks about his 14 hour 55 minute swim across Lake Pontchartrain.
- Binge Watching Swimming Over The Last Century
- Lake Pontchartrain
- History of Lake Pontchartrain
- New Canal Lighthouse Swim
- Save Our Lake website
- Open Water Swimming website
- Swim My Brother Swim
- Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) Children’s Hospital
- Swim Across the ‘Train Facebook page
- Tim Root Swimming Across The 'Train
- Going Fast To Go Far
- Training For The Big Swim Across Lake Pontchartrain
- Matthew Moseley Makes It Across The 'Train
- Gator Doesn't Stop Matthew Moseley From The 'Train
- Dancing In The Water By Wayne Ewing
- 2014 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Nominees
- 2014 WOWSA Awards Nominees
- Crossing Culebra, Freestyle To Fajardo
- A Masterpiece Of Marathoning And Melody
- Pontchartrain Film Festival Opening: Dancing In The Water
- Swimming The Longest Bridge In The World
- Matthew Moseley Speaking At Voices 4 Oceans